The Joe Barton Story

Joe Barton was a rare individual who always made a positive first impression. With his firm handshake, big smile, and sparkling eyes, he was memorable. Joe liked people and he showed it everyday. He was well respected by his peers and he had a strong reputation for helping others and giving of himself.

As a senior at Saline High School in 2005-2006, Joe demonstrated this dedication to others through his participation in the Cadet Teaching program at Saline's Heritage Middle School. What motivated Joe to excel in this program was his desire to help younger students uncover a love for learning, to find their paths in life and start in the right direction toward their futures.

Joe stressed academic achievement, conveying to others the connection between academic achievement and success later in life. An "A" student, he graduated from Saline High School in June 2006, and continued on to major in chemistry at Michigan State University. Joe often spoke of moving to California to continue his studies at the graduate level. Joe aspired to teach chemistry or become involved in research upon completion of his graduate studies.

Joe had a passion for running, and earned a varsity letter as a member of the SHS cross country and track teams. He provided inspirational leadership to his teammates and he was especially proud of the individual medals he won in competition. To him, they they represented a reward for dedication, hard work and sacrifice. He also served as volunteer coach to runners at the 6th through 8th grade levels offering them friendship, inspiration and motivation.

Joe also liked to participate in other sports and enjoyed playing golf with his family. He liked football and enjoyed attending Michigan football games at the Big House, before becoming a Spartan. As a loyal student at MSU, Joe strongly supported Michigan State athletics and spiritedly attended many of their events.

His love of music was evident through his participation in the SHS concert band, where he played saxophone. Joe taught himself to play guitar in the style of one of his favorite musicians, John Mayer.

Many of Joe's friends and family remember him as a person with a special gift- the gift of giving. Perhaps the greatest gift an individual can give another is to give of oneself. In his final act of charity, Joe gave of himself through the "Gift of Life Program". His bones, tissue and heart valves will be used in the treatment of children suffering from orthopedic injuries and other diseases, while his corneas are renewing the gift of sight in others.

Joe touched many lives and made a big impact on many people. At a memorial service held in his honor at his home in Saline, over 300 of his family members, friends, teachers and classmates gathered to remember him, to tell stories about him and to say "thanks for being my friend".

Those who Joe left behind will forever remember his welcoming smile, lightheartedness, infectious laughter and his concern for his family, friends and teammates. His dedication to those around him, his commitment to academics and his pursuit of personal excellence make him an outstanding example of what a young man should be. It is in this spirit that we will always hold him in our hearts.

The Be Like Joe Memorial Fund is a recognized 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization

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